The Unitarian Church of Lincoln hosted its annual “Standing on the Side of Love” marriage equality rally on the north side of the Nebraska State Capitol building Friday.
The attendees of the rally sang songs, waved at passing traffic and held signs with phrases such as “Freezing for Equal Rights” and “Standing on the Side of Love.” The crowd, made up almost entirely of members of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, was excited but somewhat subdued. Few in the group were under the age of 30. Aside from a few honks from passing cars, they had little interaction with passersby during the hour that the rally lasted. However, the co-leader of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln’s “Standing on the Side of Love” committee Jordan Blenner said that simply demonstrating their support is important to their cause.
“We’re willing to say that we will do whatever we can, legally, to fight for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual individuals for marriage equality,” Blenner said. “We’re hoping to produce awareness by showing the passersby that this is what we believe in, and finally, perhaps making strides towards forming an effort on our own, a grassroots effort, to push equality forward in Nebraska.”
The Rev. Fritz Hudson of the church made a brief speech during the rally, focusing on the group’s hope for legislative and societal change toward the acceptance of gay marriage. Though they hope that one day Nebraska will legally allow gay marriage, Hudson said it is more important for individual people to accept it.
“I’ve been a minister for 35 years, and Universalists have celebrated same-sex marriages for 30 years, and it’s now a matter of wanting society to have the richness of same-sex couples affirmed in our country,” Hudson said. “I don’t know how many, but there are several couples here that I have married. It’s neat to see different kinds of people each finding love and being able to live with it.”
Although it was a peaceful rally, the group was asked to move from the Capitol steps by Capitol security about 45 minutes in. Since the church did not obtain a permit, they were not allowed on the steps but were permitted to finish the rally on the sidewalk below. The group sang a few more songs and disbanded, but were pleased with the impact they had made on a cause so important to them.
“I think that the Unitarian church in general has taken a pretty serious stand about making it clear that they are accepting of gay couples, and that they value them as part of the community of the Unitarian church.” Unitarian Church of Lincoln member Jamie Radcliffe said. “And so this is just a natural part of Unitarian outreach activity, you know, the ‘Standing on the Side of Love’ campaign that the Unitarian church is part of has other components, and we favor immigration reform and a bunch of other things, and the common theme is that it’s that situations where people are being treated unfairly, and just having more openness and love for the people around you would lead you to make some changes in the way that things are run.”
Though the rally was short and somewhat quiet, the members of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln hoped to convey the church’s message of love and tolerance.
“We want people to know that we’re not a threat to their love,” Barbara Ellis, a gay member of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, said. “And that the fact that we love each other isn’t going to hurt anybody else. It might even help.”